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Monopods versus Tripods - Which Should You Buy?

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 4/14/2009

Monopods versus tripods - it's hard to figure out which you should use. While both will give you stability, you may not be able to use them interchangeably. Learn which one you should use in which situation.

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    The Similarities

    Monopods and tripods – it’s oftentimes hard to figure out which you should use in which situations. It’s obvious from the names that monopods have one leg, and tripods have three. But, before discussing the differences between the two, it may help to learn the similarities between the two.

    First of all, both are meant to provide stability when you take photographs. Anything is better than hand-holding a camera when taking shots. This can really be seen when you’re trying to zoom in on a subject. The closer that you zoom when hand-holding a camera the more obvious the hand-shaking is. You’re pictures will come out extremely blurry the closer that you zoom in. Having any type of support is better than nothing.

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopod 

    Both can be fitted with a quick-release plate, which allows you to quickly remove the camera from the monopod or tripod if you need to take some hand-held shots. They can also be bought or fitted with different types of heads. The three most common types of heads are ball heads, geared or pan/tilt. Ball heads allows movement around a ball, using one main control. The geared heads move in a variety of directions with the use of gears. And, the pan/tilt heads allows you to move you camera with just a few main controls. Since you’re going to want to get different angles of shots, these are very useful.

    You can buy monopods and tripods that come in different heights. This is something that you will have to consider when buying a monopod or tripod. You need to determine what type of photographs that you will be taking and how high you need your camera to be. You should also look at the feet of your monopod or tripod. Rubber feed will prevent scratches from happening on floors while spiked feed with give you stability in rugged locations.

    You should also figure out how much weight your monopod or tripod can hold. You should weigh your camera, batteries and lenses and make sure that whichever you select can hold the weight. You also need to consider your environment. If you’re planning on taking landscape pictures, you probably want to go with something that’s a little heavier in order to withstand the elements.

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    The Differences

    Now, here are the differences between monopods and tripods. A monopod will never have the stability of a tripod. Tripods are best used for portraits or other shots that you have plenty of time to set up and shoot. If you are in a situation where you do not have time to set up, i.e. when shooting animal pictures or sports events, you may do best with a monopod. They are quick to set up and take down. But, monopods will never have the stability of a tripod. So, if you’re in a situation where you have time to set up your tripod and will be able to remain in a location for a time, it’s best to use a tripod.Source: www.shadowgremlin.com 

    Monopods, however, are great for when you go hiking or on safari since they are lightweight and can be quickly pulled out of a backpack and set up. Plus, many monopods are being built to be used as hiking sticks and vice versa. It’s also great when you’re going to your destination to be able to quickly pull out a tripod for whatever stops you may take or other situations where you’re short on time. But, once you’re at that sunset spot over the Grand Canyon, pull out the tripod. Tripods are the best for capturing those magic moments and for creating crisp images more often.






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